"G.Alberoni" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Tuesday 26th April 2011

Giulio Alberoni (Piacenza, May 21, 1664- Piacenza, June 16, 1752), Italian statesman, cardinal and Prime Minister of Spain, who was one of the main characters in the revival of that nation after the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14).

He was a son of gardener, and received a religious Jesuit education in his hometown. In 1698 he was appointed a canon at Parma. In 1702 the Duke of Parma sent him on a diplomatic mission to Duke of Vendome, Louis-Joseph, commander of French forces in Italy during the War of the Spanish Succession, who liked Alberoni and took him to France as a secretary in 1706 and to Spain in 1711.

After Louis-Joseph's death in 1712, Alberoni was nominated an ambassador of Parma in Madrid. He negotiated the marriage of Philip V of Spain to Elisabetta Farnese, nephew of the Duke of Parma. His influence at the Spanish court increased steadily, and in 1717 he became a cardinal and a premier.

Alberoni created a plan of restitution to Spain its European domains lost with the treaty of Utrecht, and liberation of Italy from Austrians through the Spanish intervention. According to this plan he continued the administrative centralization and fiscal reform begun by the French economist Jean Orry. He also encouraged the establishment of industry through tariff reform and the importation of foreign craftsmen. His outstanding achievement, however, was the diminution of the royal councils - centers of aristocratic opposition to reform - which he accomplished through a series of decrees in 1717. His foreign policy was designed to safeguard Spanish trade with its American colonies. The Spanish military expeditions to Sardinia (1717) and Sicily (1718) led to war with the anti-Spanish coalition composed of Holland, Great Britain, France, and Austria (Quadruple Alliance). The defeat of Spanish forces during the Franco-British invasion of Spain resulted in Alberoni's banishment on December 5, 1719.

Alberoni fled from Spain to Italy, where he took part in the conclave that elected Pope Innocent XIII in 1721; he was later acquitted by a papal inquiry into charges brought against him by Spain. He became legate of Romagna in 1735 and was en-charged to reunite the republic of San Marino with the Pontifical State, which ended with the success, but was cancelled by Clement XII, who returned independence to the little State. In 1740-43 Alberoni was assigned as a legate in Bologna; later he returned to Piacenza, where in 1751 completed establishment and arrangement of an Ecclesiastic college, named after him.

Alberoni was without doubts an able diplomat and statesman, but his figure as a politician was always discussed.

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